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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I work for a company that makes consumer type products just as Browning does. We actually make our 'core' products and buy the low volume fringe products from other manufacturers and have them branded in our name so our dealers can have a whole range of products to sell.

Help me here... it doesn't appear that Browning actually makes any of their shotguns (I don't know about rifles and pistols). Why not?

They have a dealer network, a good brand, service stations, a big chunk of the market share... they carry the bunden of warranty costs and liability. Buying product is expensive as you pay the overheads and profits of your supplier as well as your own. This must make it harder finacially to compete with more vertical integrated manufacturers.

In Europe, they sell against the very manufacture (Miroku) that supplys them.

Why don't they build or buy a plant, hire the talent and make their own??? ...and then lower their prices!

Insights please.
 

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RB said:
Why don't they build or buy a plant, hire the talent and make their own??? ...and then lower their prices!

Insights please.
The answer is simply that costs would go up, not down. It's fundamental economics. In general American labor and benefits are more expensive than most anywhere else.

Though Browning does have the majority of their firearms built and/or assemble at a multitude of foreign locations, they also have very specific standards and requirements that these foreign manufacturers/assemblers (and for several firearms, domestic manufacturers/assemblers - Buck Mark Pistols and rifles, Pro-9, Pro-40 and the BDM Pistols) build to. These standards and requirements most assuredly are what makes these guns Brownings, as opposed to Miroku's or whoever -IMO.
 

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Read any good book on John Browning and Browning firearms and you will find that Browning has never actually manufactured their own firearms. John Browning was an inventor and designer who always sold or licensed his patents to other manufacturers who either made them in their own name or Browning's. It's really an interesting history.
 

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The answer is simply that costs would go up, not down. It's fundamental economics. In general American labor and benefits are more expensive than most anywhere else.

Though Browning does have the majority of their firearms built and/or assemble at a multitude of foreign locations, they also have very specific standards and requirements that these foreign manufacturers/assemblers (and for several firearms, domestic manufacturers/assemblers - Buck Mark Pistols and rifles, Pro-9, Pro-40 and the BDM Pistols) build to. These standards and requirements most assuredly are what makes these guns Brownings, as opposed to Miroku's or whoever -IMO.
Browning does build in some foreign locations such as the United States. Herstalgroup, not a U.S. company, owns the Browning and Winchester names.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
musket36 said:
The answer is simply that costs would go up, not down. It's fundamental economics. In general American labor and benefits are more expensive than most anywhere else.
I'm not saying they should necessarily build in the US. Actually though, it wouldn't be that bad if they did given the weak US dollar. Importing in from Japan and Europe is really expensive right now.

I'm saying: why don't they build vs. buy? Build anywhere it makes sense... they are market leaders.

Fundamental economics: it can't be cheaper to buy the shotgun from one manufacturer (you just paid for all of his overheads, direct costs, and profits), then add your own overheads, direct costs, and profits... then sell to the dealer. Especially when your competiting against companies who actually make their product, without the added margins.

It's like GM going to Toyota to get the WHOLE FLEET BUILT... not just a Vibe.

Is Miroku a subsiderary of some kind??? Something's missing.
 

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The history of the Browning name is clear; that's why I posted the Herstal Group link.

Right now, FN owns Browning, more specifically the Walloon region of Belgium.

FN certainly does manufacture in Liege and Herstal; they still do. FN makes Browning Golds, Winchester SX2/SX3, Hi-Powers, BARs, and Winchester Supreme O/U's for starters. They manufacture far more than most firearm companies you can name-- Remington, for example.

Buckmark .22's are made in the US; always have been. A large portion of Browning engineering remains in Utah. Asking "Browning" to build a gun is like asking Ford or Chrysler to make a car-- they do, they also have parts made to their specs like every other major firearms maker in the world does.

Browning does build, of course, and the notion that it is smarter to "build more" has little basis. They just tried that, of course, manufacturing @ the former USRAC right here, and lost millions.
 

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Although the fundamental philosophy behind RB's last statement is understandable, I have to disagree with it. I am a part owner and employee of a company that markets and distributes outerwear...specifically rainwear and wading products. Unfortunately (and I completely sincere), all of our products are made overseas. All we do is market and distribute. The products are made to our specs and tolerances, but I can say that, in our industry at least, it is FAR MORE economical to purchase from our current manufacturers and pay their costs, labor, overhead, and profit than it would be to manufacture in the US or to purchase and install tooling and labor in a more strategic labor environment. If I can land a product on my doorstep for $10 that cost me $24 (both are real numbers) in the US, and the quality is as good or (again unfortunately) better, then that allows me to sell the product at a cost that is appealing to the American consumer.

And, even if it were decided that we would only manufactuer in the US or our own foreign production facility and we decided to do it ourselves, the investment in facilities, tooling, labor, and equipment would far outweigh any benefit we would realize for decades (and this is providing we could control labor costs vs. other area industry).

My intention is not to be controversial, as I know absolutely nothng about firearm manufacturing procedures, the cost of steel, labor costs where the guns are currently made, and duties and import taxes on firearms. I am just stating that the idea that you can build, market, and distribute more cost effectively than outsourcing is flawed. It is just not reality in the global economic environment and with the consumer mind set we have in this country.

Sorry if I may have hijacked the thread, but it may help some understand why they don't just build a factory and make their own stuff domestically or in wholly owned international plants.

No hard feelings, I hope and no hurt or slight intended.
 

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RB;

It is obvious that you have never been in the manufacturing business. Overhead is not just overhead, direct costs and profits are not just direct costs and profits.

Think about this for a minute.

Miroku makes most all of the rifle and shotguns that Browning markets and has their name on. Miroku also markets a line of firearms world wide that for all intents and purposes are identical to the Browning badged firearms. Since you rarely have to wait for any particular Browning firearm, it is obvious that somebody at Browning distribution knows what they are doing. Both the Browning and Miroku guns come off the same line and you don't need to wait for a Browning and they still have the capacity at Miroku to make their own badged firearms for distribution. They, Miroku, has the capacity to do both quite handily! What if Browning did set up a plant to manufacture only their own badged firearms. It would be far less capacity than whatever Miroku has now, Miroku makes their own guns too! The plant overhead per gun would very likely be exponentially greater if Browning made their own guns at their own plant than it is now using Miroku! It is the rule of economy of size. It costs less per gun to buy a million guns that it does to make only 300,000 yourself! Overhead isn't just overhead. I think Browning long time back decided to do what they do best, market and distribute. Let someone who knows manufacturing do the manufacturing!

I used to have my own construction company to build the products I sell and service. I said I used to! I can get that job done faster, and cheaper by hiring a contract construction crew to do the job for me. Why wouldn't I do it this way? Same with Browning! Why wouldn't they? They get it done better, faster, and cheaper than if they did their own.

That would be my best guess as to why they do what they do.

BP
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Wow... cool down.

Actually, I do know something about manufacturing and retail. I work for a large manufacturer with a worldwide dealer network. I also ran my own company on the side for years selling a patented woodworking tool in various markets around the world. I recently sold the business.

Getting a gun made is the easy part... the building, the talent, getting a design,... is a commodity. You buy it just like you'd buy anything else.

Building the BRAND and developing the dealer network is by far the hardest. That's probably why my local dealer doesn't sell me a Miroku instead of a Browning. They haven't built the Brand in this country and don't have a network.

The economies of scale you mention flatten out as volumes get large. Browning would have PLENTY of volume to create their own high volume manufacturing. Miroku's added volumes (primarily Europe) wouldn't lower manufacturing costs much, if any. I would bet you a beer that Miroku's volume pails to Browning's US branded numbers.

Every market is different but in woodworking tool accessories: you make it for $10, you sell it for $20, and list price is $40. The dealer marks down from there as necessary. In the tractor business, a $10 cost add hits the dealer as a $50 hike.

My point is that Miroku's profits are in there when Browning buys the shotgun. Those costs get multiplied several times as the gun heads toward retail. A gun company, making their own product, would have a big cost advantage without this burden.

Browning has the important part: the Brand and the network...
 

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I think the reason your dealer does not sell you a Mirokou in the states is that they have a no compete clause in their contract to manufacture Brownings. Not many companies have been successful manufacturing decent quality guns in the US. Browning has always bought guns so far as I know. Must be a pretty successful business plan.
 

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Miroku and FN bought most of the Browning stock in the 1970s.
Therefore, the companies that own Browning are doing the manufacturing and assembly. It appears that Browning does the engineering and marketing of their guns.
 

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Ah, come on. Labor rates are outrageous in Belgium. They only work 4 days a week don't they?

I think a lot of the talk in here is old wives tales and right out of the propaganda publications.

I can't believe the US rate is more then Belgium's. Minimum wage and all. More likely the Hershal Group - who ever they actually are - has some degree of nationalism and tribalism to their nature and want that money to come in to their home country rather than give it to US employees - no matter what minimum wage we are willing to work for.

Come on, you guys are repeating the same piddle they give us to explain why the dollar is falling and US unemployment is up, and all of our wealth is going to China. Wake up America!

Visit the Council on Foreign Relations' website and see what they have planned for us. It is a complete sell out.
 

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wmfowler, RandyWakeman and BP do a better job than I did in expressing some of the detail of what I also believe is Browning/Herstal's rationale for why they manufacture very little in the US as opposed to contracts with other foreign firms.
But regardless of whether we are correct in our reasoning or not (and I think we are) if Browning/Herstal could make more money by manufacturing in the US with their own facilities, I have no doubt that they would be doing it.

It must be a viable strategy, Ithaca and SKB were very successful at it for quite a while until Ithaca goofed it up. Ithaca was able to offer quality O/U's at competitive prices, something they couldn't have done if they had tried to manufacture them their self in their own facility. The only problem I saw there was that the Ithaca's were more or less branded as SKB's (i.e. "Custom crafted for Ithaca by SKB") which I think was a mistake.
 

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I think the answer is much simpler than everyone thinks- Why fix something that isn't broken?

Obviously Browning has been conducting business the way that they have been, profitably, and competitively, so why change?

Remember when Coca-Cola tryed that with the "new coke", how much better received do you think the "new browning" would sell compared to the old? What if the new factory couldn't seem to get the quality, fit, and finish just right, for a while, they might lose so much market share as to never recover.

Best regards,

Jeff

The nut list- Baker 1898 Damascus barrel double hammer gun / American Arms single shot 12 ga/ Winchester Model 12 26" IC solid rib black diamond high grade straight grip checkered stock and fore end 12ga / Winchester 1300 Black Shadow Turkey 12ga / Winchester SX2 3 ½" 12ga / Browning Gold Hunter 20ga / Stoeger 2000 Max4 camo 12ga / Beretta AL391 Urika Gold 12ga / Remington 870 Wingmaster 20ga / Springfield .410 single shot (for yet to be conceived grand babies)/ Ugartechea Model 30 12 ga/
 

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"The Herstal Group has its offices in Liége, Belgium, the heart of Europe, as well as in nine other European countries, North America, and Asia.

The Herstal Group includes Herstal, the parent company, and two main subsidiaries :

FN Herstal, dedicated to defense and law enforcement products,

Browning and U.S. Repeating Arms Co-Winchester, specializing in hunting/shooting marksmanship, and outdoor sporting goods.

Each subsidiary has its own research, development and manufacturing components, and its own global distribution networks.

Today, the Herstal Group commands a worldwide presence. The markets for all of our product lines - defense, law enforcement, hunting and marksmanship, and related sporting goods - are global, based as they are on an industrial strategy of equally broad scope and vision.

We continuously have used this strategy in our product development so that, today, we offer lines of innovative and reliable products in all four markets. Using the information gathered through our worldwide marketing teams, we are working on integrated project designs on both sides of the Atlantic.

Our production sites in Europe, the United States, and in Japan are equipped with state-of-the-art, high-performance machinery."


As mentioned above, John Browning himself, the "Big Fella," was never a mass-producer of firearms or ran a manufacturing plant. He was a designer, making a lot of money for Winchester, Colt, Remington, and designing gun that helped win world wars.

Browning Arms was formed after a snub by Winchester, and an timely death at Remington that resulted in J. M. Browning's setting sail for Europe with his A-5 design in hand-- and he and respected arms-maker FN came to quick agreement.

FN Browning's have been treasured ever since. At one time the only "Browning" was the A-5, and then just the A-5 and the Superposed. The Browning family sold off their interests in the company later, with the exodus of Val Browning from Browning management as an end-note.

I'm not sure what the question here really is, or why a discussion of Browning is more relevant than other companies.

Far from an easy business, Olin and DuPont were delighted to rid themselves of Winchester and Remington.

Where was all the great profit for Colt? It is the great savings of manufacturing here that convinced Diamler-Benz to dump Chrysler, and cheap American labor has not done all that much for GM or Ford.

The notion that using Miroku for production of some of the Browning line as being problematic carries little credence if you compare the fortunes of Toyota and Honda to Chrysler, Ford, GM.

Europeans work less: but when they do work they seem to put their time to better use. In 1970 GDP per hour in the EU was 35 percent below that of the US; today the gap is less than 7 percent and closing fast. Productivity per hour of work in Italy, Austria, and Denmark is similar to that of the United States; but the US is now distinctly outperformed in this key measure by Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, ...and France.

See Andrew Sharpe, Appendix Table 2, "Output per House Levels in the OECD Countries Relative to the United States" for 2003; Centre for the Study of Living Standards, International Productivity Monitor, No. 9 (Fall 2004), at http://www.csls.ca/ipm/9/sharpe-tables.pdf.
 

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The Weatherby is another example of an American company that has never manufactured anything themselves. First, they used FN actions. Then, they had their guns made in Germany. Later Japan, and a few in Italy. Today, the famous Weatherby Mark V is made in the United States, and their shotguns are made in Italy. The Vanguard is still made in Japan. But, to my knowledge, Weatherby has never, ever owned and operated a manufacturing plant.

When the Japanese started manufacturing cars in the United States, I heard people complain that the American made cars weren't as well made as the Japanese. The dealers swore there wasn't a speck of difference between the two, and if anything the American made ones were slightly better. But you still heard it.

The American public says it wants American made goods, and then goes out and actually buys foreign made goods. You can even charge more money for some foreign made goods, and the customer seems to like it that way. Cars, cigarettes, liquour, pens, watches, pocket knives, beer, wine, and guns all come to mind. But the foreign goods have to come from the "right" countries to command the premium dollars. If they are made in China, Taiwan, Phillipines, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, India, or Mexico they aren't usually telling you about it in big, bold letters.

I own a beautiful Crescent tool set that was made in Taiwan. Not a single piece of the set has any marks telling where it was made, on the tools themselves. Only tiny, tiny print on the back of the bubble wrap the kit came in betrayed it's origin. If they had been made in Germany, or the United States, every tiny little part would have been stamped with the country of orgin.

I read somewhere that the United States still manufactures 75 percent of the products sold in our domestic market, down from 90 per cent ten years ago. And, in spite of all our woes, the USA is still the largest exporter of goods and services, by far, in the world. We aren't gaining any ground, but we still have a long way to fall.
 

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SGnut,
I suspicion that old coke had sucrose or cane sugar in it since the turn of the century if not before. Any bottle or can of coke today including "Classic Coke" has high-fructose corn syrup in it instead. The "New Coke" was out just about long enough for all of the old coke to sell off the shelves. Was it a red-herring to keep anyone from noticing that the sweetening agent was switched? Wake up America.
 

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SuperXOne said:
And, in spite of all our woes, the USA is still the largest exporter of goods and services, by far, in the world. We aren't gaining any ground, but we still have a long way to fall.
The WTO disagrees:

GENEVA -- China surpassed the United States as the world's second-largest exporter in the middle of last year, according to figures released Thursday by the World Trade Organization, and the Asian country is pulling further and further ahead.

Export growth from China boomed 27 percent last year, outpacing all other major trading nations, the WTO said in releasing its first batch of global trade statistics for 2006.

While China finished behind Germany and the United States in total exports for the full year, it overtook the United States in the last six months of 2006 and will almost certainly finish above the US in the 2007 totals.

At current growth rates, China is projected to overtake Germany as the world's biggest exporter in 2008.
 

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musket36 said:
The only problem I saw there was that the Ithaca's were more or less branded as SKB's (i.e. "Custom crafted for Ithaca by SKB") which I think was a mistake.
Oh, so it's ok to do as long as the consumer doesn't know you are doing it? Ithaca should have used smaller print? Or used a paper sticker with bad adhesive on it attached to the bubble wrap?
 
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